Safety officials urge airbag recall repairs, say long-term heat contributes to malfunction

Updated: Aug. 29, 2018 at 1:51 PM CDT
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EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - More than 1.7 million vehicles in Texas are under a recall notice for Takata airbags and summer heat is adding to the danger, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About 27,000 of those are in Tyler and Longview.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has determined the root cause of the problem is that the airbags use ammonium nitrate-based propellant without a chemical drying agent. Environmental moisture, high temperatures, and age contribute to the defect that improperly inflates airbags, possibly sending shrapnel into the occupant. As a result, at least 15 people in the United States have died, according to Consumer Reports.

IS YOUR VEHICLE AFFECTED? FIND OUT HERE: 

A new awareness campaign has designated September as Airbag Recall Repair Month in an effort to encourage drivers to get their recalls repaired, a situation the industry is calling, "urgent." The campaign is sponsored by FCA US LLC and its Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram Truck dealers in Texas.

The easiest way to check for recalled airbags is with the vehicle's 17-digit vehicle identification number, known as the VIN. That code is on a small tab located on the driver's side dashboard by the windshield and on vehicle registration and insurance documents. Makes and models built by the majority of auto manufacturers between 2003 through 2013 are affected. The repair takes about an hour to complete, and are free.

Already the largest recall in history, the NHTSA is warning that an additional recall for the Takata airbags will be announced in December 2019. That notice will bring the total number of affected airbags to nearly 70 million since the recall was first announced in 2013.

MORE: Recall expands for faultyTakata airbags

The recall is of such importance that targeted advertising campaigns are planned, and street teams will be present at local events to help drivers check for open recalls.

"It is imperative that manufacturers take every available step to reach each and every owner of a vehicle with deadly air bags, and take action to ensure that those dangerous air bags are replaced as soon as is safely possible," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King. "Public plans will be a resource to communities and to individual consumers to support effective recall implementation nationwide."

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